Harriet Frishmuth


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Sculptor. During the 1920s and 1930s, her lighthearted bronze nudes achieved great popularity, particularly as garden and fountain decorations. A Philadelphian, Harriet Whitney Frishmuth spent much of her childhood in Europe. As a young woman she studied art in Paris, where contact with Rodin was formative, and in Berlin before settling in New York. There, after working at the Art Students League under Gutzon Borglum and Hermon MacNeil, she served as an assistant to Karl Bitter. Among the first of her works to gain wide popularity and still the best known, The Vine (1922) displays the animated joy and playful sensuousness typical of her sculpture. Caught in motion, a lithe young woman on tiptoe arches backward, for balance extending one arm from which a vine loops back to the torso. Like many of her successful images, which exist in large editions and more than one size, this tabletop piece was cast in an edition of 350. Later the artist enlarged it to more than six feet in height. After the 1920s, she produced little new work but continued to edition and sell earlier pieces. Frishmuth occasionally worked in stone, and her output includes memorials and a few portraits. In 1937 she moved to the outskirts of Philadelphia where she lived in semiretirement for thirty years before relocating to Southbury, Connecticut. She died in a nursing home in nearby Waterbury some months before her one hundredth birthday.

Subjects: Art.

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